Montclair Teachers Join Educators Across the Country in #BlackLivesMatter Week of Action in Schools – February 5-9, 2018

Last year, Seattle and Philadelphia educators organized Black Lives Matter actions in their schools. This year, educators in many more cities, including New York, Chicago, Boston, D.C., and Baltimore, are joining efforts to organize a Black Lives Matter Week of Action during the week of February 5th through 9th. The Week of Action builds on the momentum of the national Black Lives Matter movement to promote a set of local and national demands focused on improving the school experience for students of color. The goals of Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools are to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities and to inspire all people to engage with critical issues of racial justice.

Teachers Undoing Racism Now (TURN!) in Montclair

Montclair’s Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools has been organized by Teachers Undoing Racism Now (TURN!), which was created by Montclair educators as a continuation of the work begun in the Undoing Racism workshops sponsored the Montclair School District for all teachers and staff. Over the past year, TURN has grown to include students and community members and welcomes new members.

Each day, Montclair’s Week of Action will explore a theme related to racism. During the day, teachers will implement lessons created by TURN for the Black Lives Matter Week of Action. In the evening, there will be events for educators, students, and community members. Montclair’s daily themes are the following:

Monday, February 5th: The Racial History of Montclair
Tuesday, February 6th: The School-to-Prison Pipeline/Prison Industrial Complex
Wednesday, February 7th: Getting Real About Education in Montclair
Thursday, February 8th: Students Speak, Teachers Listen
Friday, February 9th: Voices of Black Women

Rodney Jackson, a teacher at Renaissance Middle School and a TURN organizer, said of the upcoming week of action, “It’s essential for the Montclair School District to continue on the path of racial justice. Decreasing school suspension of black students, hiring and retaining black teachers, as well as the implementation and awareness of the Amistad Law, are steps in the direction of creating better and more inclusive schools.”

In each city, 13 guiding principles of the Black Lives Matter movement will be highlighted as a means of challenging the insidious legacy of institutionalized racism and oppression that has plagued American society since its founding. There will be events, both online, and in each city, throughout the week, as well as curriculum resources for lesson plans and activities.

The national demands include:

End Zero Tolerance. Focus our Schools on Restorative Justice.
Black History/Ethnic Studies Mandated K-12.
Black Teacher Pushout Ends Now! Hire More Black Teachers in our Schools.

Local Montclair demands can be found in TURN’s statement on the event, and include:

  • End racial disparities in discipline, and implement restorative practices.
  • Improve awareness and implementation of the Amistad law’s black history mandate.
  • Increased hiring and improved retention of Black teachers.

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  1. BLM is a radical hate group. Why is this being idolized in our school system. We don’t need to build momentum in our town for this hate group. Montclair is turning into a radicalized place and it’s a shame because it is ruining this town. How about instead of worrying about retention of black teachers, we worry about the qualifications of the individual being hired. Instead of worrying about more black kids being suspended, we worry about the behavior and actions of those individuals. This type of rhetoric from the town is pushing further divide. Why is it everyone continues to stress the importance of race and color of your skin not being of importance only when it benefits those of color?

  2. Agree with some of what you said. “Restorative justice” is a great rallying phrase, but the presumption that the “suspension gap” reflects “institutional racism” (another great catchphrase), racist teachers and principals in this case, seems almost certainly wrong. I’d wager that you see the same gap at schools where the majority of teachers and principals are black. To be sure, the suspended kids may have good cause (turmoil at, anxiety, depression, etc.), and suspension may be the wrong medicine (though more “just” for the students-of all colors-intent on learning), but blaming racist educators seems wrong empirically (if my wager is correct), distracts from root causes, and is divisive, as you said. And if my wager if correct, the “solution” of more black teachers, more Superintendents of Equity (Montclair has one of those now) are misguided. But hey, jobs.

  3. Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. It works to hold accountable and prevent the biased and sometimes deadly actions of those infected with racism, especially those in positions of authority. Some may not appreciate or agree with all the tactics and tenets of the group, but that doesn’t make it a hate group.

  4. BLM is absolutely a racist group that promotes hate and violence against Police Officers. Cops have a very difficult and dangerous job. What happened in Chicago (becoming the Murder/Homicide Capital of the US) is largely a result of the Police Force there deciding to no longer enforce the law because of 1 or 2 incidents when Cops felt like they had to act and the community disagreed!
    The number of erroneous shooting incidents is VERY small in a country of 325,000,000 ! More Cops killed every year that mistaken civilian shootings!

  5. BLM is a grassroots movement with followers that advocate for black communities. They are not racist and it benefit the students to better understand the movement.

    TURN, on the other hand, I find disingenuous and, quite frankly, I’m shocked the MPS has sanctioned this group to do a curriculum program. This is a group that advocates a noble cause, but its practices are suspect. Their agenda-speak..for All to Help, Listen, Explore, Gather, Honor and Share. However, TURN has Demands. Adding demands crossed the school policies line. The BOE doesn’t’ have clue what it is doing, so they are being consistent in not knowing their policies. I’m hoping the BOE can just figure out a way to hire a permanent superintendent. I really don’t care who. Just hire someone.

  6. Okay. I’ll do it. Especially since Murphy’s going to lift the cap for sure. What did our former super who left for Rye amid the truth of the achievement gap worsening make? 250K per year? I’ll do it for half that.

  7. Ok, first come, first hired works for me. You do need to understand the basic expectations.

    First, and an absolute, the achievement gap can’t get worse. It was pretty bad when the district had kids for 4 years and still couldn’t get 20% of them to read at grade level – and didn’t realize it for several years. The State has caught on, so we kind of, sort of, have to hold the line here as it’s their metric now.

    Second, we can continue to tread water on overall quality education, but not with the annual operating budget increasing 3x inflation. Since inflation rates will jump this year, it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep it under 2x inflation.

    Third, Capital. We don’t bother to holding anyone accountable on this $150MM shape-shifting number, least of all the Superintendent. We haven’t a clue what our capital position has been for the last two decades. So, as long as you don’t say the magic 2 words (new school), we’ll give you any and all latitude in dealing- or not dealing – with capital finances.

    Fourth, and last, you are expected to either to ensure favorable weather for the MHS Graduation Ceremonies or, if unfavorable, move the ceremonies to Woodman Field so at least each family can have their 4 tickets.

    We can offer a total package of around $200-210K. Full disclosure: if a candidate comes along and commits to actually improving our lot in the above areas, I think we might have to go in this other direction. Sorry.

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